NBC’s Lester Holt Praises Obama’s ‘Pointed Jabs’ at GOPers; ‘Candid Assessment of This Campaign’ [UPDATED]

Update, 11:31 p.m. Eastern: This blog has been updated to include an additional softball question from the interview that aired on MSNBC’s The Last Word. For more, please scan down to the final paragraph.

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One day after he pitched a softball to President Obama by asking him if criminal justice reform was “your defining moment” as the country’s first African-American President, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt returned with part two on Tuesday’s newscast by touting Obama’s “pointed jabs” and “candid assessment” of the 2016 Republican field.

Introducing the series of clips, Holt declared that the President “is taking pointed jabs at the Republican field” as he gave the NBC anchor “a candid assessment of this campaign season and why voters should be engaged.”

In the first of two questions aired, Holt inquired with the President about whether he could “[d]escribe the climate to me” and decipher whether or not the 2016 campaign appears to be “any different” from “when you ran eight years ago.”

Obama offered a very predictable analysis as he chided the 2016 election as “a silly season” and blamed voters who identify as Republican for being so disenchanted with government: 

You know, political season is always a little bit of a silly season. I do think that what's different this time is that particularly in the Republican Party, you have, I think, the most disgruntled, or suspicious of Washington portion of the electorate that is driving the process, but there hasn't been, maybe because of Super PACs, a winnowing down of the process where people are forced really to talk about the issues in a more serious way. I suspect that will change over time.

With the time remaining, Holt again did his part to boost Obama with a fawning question about life as President: “All these people want the Oval Office. Give me a reality check of what it’s like to finally be there.”

Once again, the President attacked, in part, the American electorate for being “a big diverse country” but also having a “messy” democracy which he has found to “be frustrating as President.” Obama then concluded:

The most important thing I will say about this election, though, is just encouraging everybody to participate. If really you are sick and tired of gridlock, regardless of what your party is, you got to get involved. You have to listen to what folks are saying, you have to — by the way, make sure that the candidates are being willing to take tough questions, and I've been interested in seeing some of the Republican candidates say they’re so tough, they’re going to stare down the Chinese and the Russians and somehow CNBC scares 'em. You got to be able to field difficult questions and that is what citizens should expect and if people are paying attention and involved, I think they're going to make a good decision.

Hours later, more of the interview aired on MSNBC’s The Last Word and in addition to the two questions shown on NBC Nightly News, MSNBC ran one arguably even more gushy than the other two:

Alright, Mr. President, we are one year out from the elections. Americans will become increasingly, you know, drill down on this. Tell me, not as a Democrat or a politician, but as a second-term President, tell us what the American people and your successors need to know about this job? 

The relevant portions of the transcript from November 3's NBC Nightly News can be found below.

NBC Nightly News
November 3, 2015
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: NBC News Exclusive]

LESTER HOLT: And our conversation with President Obama on the 2016 campaign and what he calls the silly season. 

(....)

7:06 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: NBC News Exclusive]

HOLT: And with the count down clock for the election down to 12 months, President Obama is taking pointed jabs at the Republican field. In the second part of my exclusive interview with the President during his visit to New Jersey yesterday, he offered a candid assessment of this campaign season and why voters should be engaged. [TO OBAMA] Describe the climate to me. Is it any different, the political, the election climate than when you ran eight years ago? 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, political season is always a little bit of a silly season. I do think that what's different this time is that particularly in the Republican Party, you have, I think, the most disgruntled, or suspicious of Washington portion of the electorate that is driving the process, but there hasn't been, maybe because of Super PACs, a winnowing down of the process where people are forced really to talk about the issues in a more serious way. I suspect that will change over time. 

HOLT: All these people want the Oval Office. Give me a reality check of what it’s like to finally be there. 

OBAMA: You know, what I would say this is a big, diverse country and that’s a good thing and democracy is messy and that can be frustrating as President, but what you want to be able to do is to — stay with it and have a sense of where it is that you want to go. The most important thing I will say about this election, though, is just encouraging everybody to participate. If really you are sick and tired of gridlock, regardless of what your party is, you got to get involved. You have to listen to what folks are saying, you have to — by the way, make sure that the candidates are being willing to take tough questions, and I've been interested in seeing some of the Republican candidates say they’re so tough, they’re going to stare down the Chinese and the Russians and somehow CNBC scares 'em. You got to be able to field difficult questions and that is what citizens should expect and if people are paying attention and involved, I think they're going to make a good decision. 

HOLT: President Obama with me in Newark, New Jersey. 

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats NBC NBC Nightly News MSNBC Other MSNBC The Last Word Video President Barack Obama President Obama Lester Holt Barack Obama
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